Many glitters contain PET or microplastics, which often end up in the ocean, damaging marine wildlife and polluting our seas with plastics that don’t break down. But your love of glitter can be fulfilled without plastic. A new kind of sparkle, made from synthetic fluorphlogopite (aka synthetic mica), is adding dazzle to bath bombs, shower gels and all kinds of cosmetics.
Synthetic mica is a man-made material designed to mimic the shimmer effect of natural mica, which is made up of natural minerals. So, instead of filling your bathroom with plastics that aren’t biodegradable and are potentially toxic to marine wildlife, you can sit back and enjoy your bath safe in the knowledge it won’t have a negative impact on the environment.
Synthetic mica is synthesized in a lab to mimic natural mica. We made the decision to move to this alternative after encountering difficulties with our supply chain which meant we could no longer guarantee that no child labor was being used in the process. Read more about this in our FAQ on Lush and mica.
For these reasons, as for January 1st 2018, we made the commitment not to use any natural mica-based pigments in our products. This has involved removing natural mica where it appeared as a sole ingredient, as well as a component of a pigment. We expect there’ll be some stock left on our shop shelves containing natural mica, which we’ll be selling through to prevent waste, but no natural mica will be used in the making of future products.
While mica occurs naturally, the level of processing it undergoes to remove heavy metals or clean it can be very intensive. Once coated with a dye or pigment, it’s almost an inert material.
So, whether it’s synthetic mica or natural mica, there’s always an element of chemical processing to make it safe for human use.
All materials and pigments are controlled by cosmetics regulations, which stipulate what percentages can be used safely in cosmetics. We also use other pigments made with borosilicate, which are thin glass flakes made of different minerals including calcium or sodium coated with dye. In terms of environmental impact, these are naturally-occurring materials, as are the dyes used to coat them. The synthetic mica works as a base for the dye to be applied on, so it's actually a mineral coating another mineral at different levels, depending on the desired effect.
Our products (sparkly or not) use food-safe colorings as much as possible, synthetic mica, minerals and natural starches. Of all the glitter and luster that flow out through your bathroom and back into our waterways, they’re all be harmless for the environment, and stand against child labor.